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Solicitor General surprised at Fort St. John’s progress on cannabis sales: Mayor Ackerman

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – After meeting with B.C.’s top cop earlier this week, Fort St. John mayor Lori Ackerman said that he was surprised at the steps the City of Fort St. John has taken in allowing the sale of recreational cannabis ahead of the legalization of cannabis this fall.

On Monday, Ackerman met with Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, who is currently touring the province speaking with local government officials and police detachments to talk about a number of policing issues including the upcoming legalization, which according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is taking place on October 17th.

“He was surprised at how advanced we were. I think he was impressed that we have our allowable zones in place, and that we are now moving forward to look at our business license bylaw. That will capture other attributes of how this new retail market comes out into play in Fort St. John.”

Ackerman said that the pair also discussed the topic of cannabis production facilities, and whether the City would be open to allowing such operations.

While city staff have said that they’ve received close to 50 inquiries about cannabis retail so far this year, Ackerman said that so far there’s been no inquiries from anyone looking to grow cannabis locally, adding that the Peace Region has a short growing season necessitating a greenhouse or other enclosed structure for commercial cannabis production.

Asked about why Farnworth was surprised about the City allowing cannabis retail, Ackerman cited both the City’s public feedback campaign and the feedback received by other agencies including the RCMP, Northern Health, School District #60, and the Chamber of Commerce.

“Not only did we do public consultation we’ve also reached out to those agencies, where a lot of communities, their Council or their staff have made the decisions without going out to the public to get that feedback.”

The Peace River Regional District meanwhile is currently going through the process of banning the sale of not only recreational cannabis, but also banning the sale of cannabis accessories, which are defined as “a thing that is that represented to be used in the consumption of Cannabis, such as pipes, bongs, vaporizers, or similar accessories.”

The proposed bylaw passed second reading last Thursday, and the PRRD will be holding a public hearing on the proposed bylaw at the August 23rd Regional Board meeting, which is taking place at the North Peace Cultural Centre.

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